MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just on the heels of the release of former Minneapolis Police officer Tou Thao’s body cam footage of the death of George Floyd, courts have released an extensive video of BCA investigators interviewing Thao.
Thao’s bodycam captured the reaction on the faces of bystanders, who were pleading with officers to check Floyd for a pulse the day he died. Thao and Derek Chauvin showed up at the scene as Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were trying to get Floyd in the back seat of the squad car.
In the interview, Thao said he decided to continue responding to a call for back-up at Cup Foods on Memorial Day, even after dispatch called him and his partner off. That call resulted in the death of Floyd.
At one point, Thao spoke about what happened immediately prior to his and Chauvin’s arrival.
“I drove us about halfway there, and 320 [Lane and Kueng’s squad car number] had called Code 4 [indicating situation under control], said they’re OK,” Thao told investigators. “Dispatch canceled us, but I, knowing the area — and they’re so new too — knowing the area, it’s Cup Foods especially, that specific store, is a known Blood gang hangout, especially hostile to police. So knowing those two there, especially very new, I decided to continue at least to give some security for them to finish whatever call they were doing. So we continued on to go assist.”
He said he saw former officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on the back of Floyd’s head, neck, and shoulders. He said that’s not a maneuver he’s used.
He also said the growing crowd during Floyd’s arrest was hostile; he said they were saying “get off him, get off his neck, look at him.”
“Suggesting what?” asked the interviewer.
“Check on him,” replied Thao.
“Did you do that?”
“That was not my job,” said Thao.
Thao said his job was to watch the crowd. He said he wanted to make sure his fellow officers were not charged, or rushed, calling them “defenseless.”
“Do you think there was anything you could have done differently to intervene?” asked the interviewer.
“I mean I believe that there is always something different you can do on every single call,” said Thao.
“It’s easy to second-guess, right?” said the interviewer.
Investigators asked Thao what his thoughts were on the widely-circulated video of Floyd’s arrest.
That’s when his lawyer stepped in.
“Can I ask a question?” said the lawyer. “Why are you asking what his thoughts are? We don’t normally put thoughts down in a police report to give summaries.”
“Well, he is a human being. I am always curious what his thoughts are,” replied the interviewer.
“I understand that, but he is here to give a voluntary statement about what happened not necessarily what his thoughts are,” said the lawyer.
Thao took his lawyer’s advice and did not answer the question. He told investigators he could have been more “observant” towards Floyd while he was monitoring crowd control.
Late last month, Thao’s attorney filed a motion for Thao’s charges to be dismissed. Thao faces felony counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection to Floyd’s death in late May.
Chavin, who is the former officer seen in widely-distributed video holding a knee down on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes, faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges.